KPCC News In Brief

Statewide charter schools group holds conference

The new leader of the California Charter Schools Association said at the organization’s annual gathering today that charter schools’ strengths are no excuse for complacency. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has this report from the conference in Long Beach.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Association chief Jed Wallace started his job a month ago. Soon after that, he asked the association’s staff to pull data for the Academic Performance Index, a test score measurement with a top score of 1,000.

Jed Wallace: They came back to me and they told me that charter schools median score is actually 28 points lower than traditional schools. And I was surprised by that – there are probably some explanations to this that make sense. But 28 points, I was surprised by that.

Guzman-Lopez: So were some of the charter school teachers and administrators who listened to his keynote speech. Wallace told the gathering of about 2,000 people that the schools must make innovation a high priority, but that test score improvement must not fall far behind.

He said the solutions would arise from individual campuses, not from leaders like him. About 800 charter schools operate in California – another 80 are set to open this year. All operate independently of public school district control, and most of their teachers don’t belong to unions.

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March 2009

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